It’s another Fantastic Friday and once more the floor is open to you. No subject is off limits as long as it’s clean. Here are five reasonably interesting topics to get our conversation going:
1. Congress vs. the BCS. What’s next? Bill Hancock, the BCS Executive Director, sent a letter yesterday responding to inquiries from senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Max Baucus (D-Montana) about the way the BCS determines its champion and distributes the money, which will be about $125 million per year in the next four-year cycle.
Hancock was polite and answered all questions. But basically he told the Senators that they had more important things to worry about: “While I appreciate your interest, I believe that decisions about college football should be made by university presidents, athletics directors, coaches and conference commissioners rather than by members of Congress.”
Hatch, upset when undefeated Utah did not get a shot at the 2008 national championship (while No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Florida did), fired back with a statement released from his office: “Today, the BCS simply confirmed what most fans of college football have known for some time, that the BCS system is biased, secretive, and harmful to schools and competitors.
“No one wants to see Congress get involved here, including me. But if this response is any indication, there may not be any other option.”
Now remember what I told you earlier in the week. The more and more outside forces like Congress push, the more and more the big conferences may decide to give up on any kind of post-season structure after the next four-year cycle.
The smart people I know who are handicapping this thing tell me that if expansion comes, the odds are better that the conferences will go back to the traditional bowl structure (Big Ten, Pac-10 in the Rose, SEC in the Sugar, ACC in the Orange, etc.) than forming any kind of playoff.
It is going to be an interesting summer.
2. Lane Kiffin is making $4 million at USC. Seriously? Seriously. Nothing really surprises me anymore but when HBO and ESPN reported that Kiffin, who has won exactly seven games as a college head coach during a cup of coffee at Tennessee, would be making $4 million at USC that surprised me. A couple of things in play here: USC was obviously in no mood to fool around last January when Pete Carroll bolted for the Seattle Seahawks. AD Mike Garrett needed somebody who knew how the program works and would say yes if the number on the table was big enough. Also remember that agent Jimmy Sexton (see Nick Saban, Houston Nutt) is one of the best when it comes to convincing a school that his guy is the one they need and this is the number that it will take to get him. Sexton sold USC on the future. The guy is good.
3. Assistant coaches deserve every penny they get: Remember back in the summer of 2008 when the SEC did its $3 billion TV deal with CBS and ESPN? I told you at the time that a lot of that new money would be spent to hire and retain the best coaches for this league. It is no coincidence that a bunch of coordinators in the SEC have now cashed in.
David Jones of Florida Today points out that a year ago only two SEC assistants were making more than $500,000. Since then Alabama DC Kirby Smart has had his pay doubled to $700,000. Georgia had to pony up and pay Todd Grantham $750,000 to get him away from the Dallas Cowboys. More than one school came after South Carolina DC Ellis Johnson and he got his salary doubled to $700,000. Auburn OC Gus Malzahn got bumped up to $500,000. Derek Dooley had to pay Justin Wilcox $600,000 to leave Boise State and become the new DC and Tennessee. And so it goes.
The money is there and the agents who represent these coaches know it. And what do you do if you’re an athletics director like South Carolina’s Eric Hyman? His business sense tells him he can’t pay $700,000 for an assistant football coach but if Steve Spurrier says he has to have Johnson running his defense (and he does), what are you going to do? You’re going to pay it.
4. You gotta give Boise State credit. They play people: The Broncos have 21 of 22 starters coming back from a 14-0 team. They will travel all the way across the country to open the season on Sept. 6 against Virginia Tech in Landover, Md. On Sept. 25 they will host Oregon State, which will be in a lot of preseason Top 25s. Next season Chris Peterson and his gang will open the season at Ole Miss. Boise State was told a while back that in order to get into the national championship discussion it would have to go on the road and beat people that are supposed to be better than them. Rather than complain about a perceived injustice as a program in a league without an automatic qualifier, Boise rolled up their sleeves and improved the schedule. Same goes for TCU, which went on the road and beat Virginia and Clemson last season.
5. Please say a prayer for the Beamer family: Cheryl Beamer, the wife of Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, was seriously injured in a fall at their second home at Lake Oconee. According to media reports, Cheryl Beamer fell when she was carrying one of her grandchildren and tripped over a family pet and could not break her fall. She was rushed to Athens Regional Hospital where she had pins inserted in both legs. She also suffered six broken ribs and a broken collarbone. Virginia Tech Sports Information Dave Smith told the Raleigh News & Observer that the child was not seriously injured.
Frank Beamer, set to enter his 23d season at Virginia Tech, suffered a fall two weeks ago getting off a plane in Roanoke. He’ll need surgery this summer to repair a torn tendon in his right bicep.
Have a great weekend.
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